By a large margin, on-rez members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in northeastern Washington State voted at the polls last Saturday against a controversial proposal to mine molybdenum from tribal lands on Mount Tolman. But - as The Star Of Grand Coulee reports, there are quite a few absentee ballots uncounted from off-rez tribal members. As of 11:28 a.m. today, those votes were unreported on the tribe's mining vote count Web page. They're reportedly to be tallied this afternoon, Thursday, even though the vast majority had been turned in by Monday. Hmmmm. The Star:
Absentee ballot requests out-number poll voting 1,625 to 628. An election official said 1,326 absentee ballots had been returned by Monday. Absentee ballots will be counted on Thursday afternoon. The absentee ballot requests were 443 for Inchelium, 180 for Keller, 524 for Nespelem and 478 for Omak. What trend absentee ballots will take is anyone's guess, the election official said Monday. If sentiment for mining exists with tribal members living off the reservation, those votes could change the local vote decision.
The mining referendum has stirred up strong feelings throughout the reservation and with tribal members living off the reservation....One estimate suggests that there are a million tons of mineral ore on and around Mt. Tolman. Molybdenum is used in the manufacture of steel, among other products. It is now selling for more than $30 a pound. Environmental organizations on the reservation have been fighting the mining issue and have developed studies showing the dangers of pollution from runoffs, and concern for health issues associated with the project.
Stay tuned.....If the results are reversed, I'd imagine questions would arise about the validity of the registration process for off-reservation tribal members. In addition, transparency would have been better if results of the many non-rez absentee ballots already received by Monday had been posted at the tribe's vote results page shortly after they came in. Rather than leaving the online absentee results "hole" empty for three more days, pending receipt of the final absentees. I guess the rulers of a sovereign nation make and enforce election law the way they want.
UPDATE: 3/24/06, 1:25 P.M.: The tribe's Web site now shows the absentee ballot results have been released, and the molybdenum mining proposal for tribal lands on Mt. Tolman has been defeated. The total vote is reported as 1,254 against, 847 for.Posted by Matt Rosenberg at March 23, 2006 11:28 AM | Email This